Immigration Lawyers in Sacramento, CA
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Questions to ask before hiring a lawyer in Sacramento
What percentage of your cases deal with issues like mine?
Find an attorney in Sacramento that knows how to handle your specific issue. Ask how many years they’ve been practicing and how familiar they are with the law surrounding your issue, especially in California. A lack of experience isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if they have experienced lawyers around them.
How do you typically work with clients? What’s your communication style?
Ask if they prefer to communicate via email, text, phone, or in person, and whether they’re willing to use your preferred communication methods. Make sure they respond promptly (within 24 hours) to your initial inquiries—you don’t want to hire a lawyer who won’t return your calls or avoids timely communication.
What’s your availability, should I need to contact you?
Understand your potential attorney’s availability. Will they be staying in the Sacramento area during your case? Can they be contacted by assistants if they aren’t in the office? You should have a good sense of when your lawyer will be available to communicate with you and how often.
What is immigration?
Summary: Immigration deals with permanent and non-permanent stays in the United States, as well as green cards and citizenship.
The US recognizes many types of immigration, such as moving for a job or for school, moving to be with your spouse or other family, or moving to flee violence in your previous country. What requirements you'll have to meet depend on how and why you're immigrating.
Agencies and laws
Individual states don’t regulate immigration. Instead, several federal agencies are responsible for different parts of the immigration process.
Applications for travel, residency, green cards, and citizenship are handled by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Immigration and import/export laws at US borders and airports are enforced by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Running immigration detention centers and conducting deportations is the responsibility of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Immigration and deportation courts are run by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).
Immigrant and non-immigrant status
If you enter the country intending on a long-term or permanent stay, you’re considered an immigrant to the United States. This includes immigrating to be with a US citizen spouse or family member, for certain jobs, as a “returning resident,” or under some special categories.
If you travel to the US temporarily, such as for a holiday, a business trip, a job, or an educational program, then you’re a non-immigrant visitor. Non-immigrant visas often restrict your activities while you are in the US. For example, if you’re a student, you might not be permitted to work during your studies.
You apply for a particular type of visa from the US Department of State depending on your reason for coming to the US. If you aren’t a citizen or permanent resident, that visa is your proof of permission to be in the US. It’s important to carry both your visa and passport with you at all times.
If you have a green card, you’re a legal permanent resident of the US, but aren’t a citizen and can’t vote. This is also known as being a “resident alien.” You can still lose your permanent residency by leaving the US for an extended period of time (typically a year or more), or by committing certain crimes.
“Adjustment of status” means changing your immigration status from non-immigrant or temporary to immigrant or permanent residency. In order to apply for adjustment of status, you'll either need to fit into another special category, or have a family member or employer to sponsor you.
Citizenship or naturalization
Naturalization is the process of becoming a citizen. You may be able to apply for citizenship if you are a permanent resident or immigrant with a US citizen spouse, and have resided in the US continuously for 3 to 5 years.
The naturalization process includes a detailed application submitted to USCIS, an interview, a civics test, and an oath of allegiance. USCIS offers exemptions from some of these requirements for qualified applicants.
Leaving the US and deportation
Generally, when your visa expires, you must leave the US. You can reapply for a new visa, or permanent residency, by leaving the country and reapplying at a US consulate or embassy in another country. Non-immigrant visas are typically only awarded to people who can prove they have significant ties to the country they are coming from.
Deportation or removal proceedings are initiated by the DHS against individuals they believe to be in the US without permission, or after their permission has expired. Special immigration courts handle deportation cases.